Talking about finances as a couple isn’t easy. And, it doesn’t just magically get better once you’re married. In fact, financial compatibility is one of the top reasons people tend to divorce. However, just because one person is a saver and the other a spender doesn’t necessarily mean you’re headed for divorce. The most important aspect of financial success is being able to have open and honest discussions with your partner about your spending habits, debts, wish lists and income. Our Calgary based divorce and family law lawyers discuss their tips for talking to your partner about money.
Set Aside Time For “Money-Talk”
It’s a lot easier to have a difficult conversation when both parties show up on the same page. As such, never ambush your partner. It’s a good idea to set aside a select amount of time in a place where you both feel relaxed and comfortable. We recommend your home with no kids, no cell phones or any other distractions. You may also opt for a restaurant as this a neutral territory – just make sure you both commit to keeping your cool and not causing a scene if the conversation goes south. Also, it’s a good idea to limit your alcohol intake prior to this conversation. While alcohol can help you relax, it may also lead you to say things you don’t mean or act out. Finally, plan to have a financial conversation once a month or at least once a quarter. The more you talk about your finances the easier it will be.
Ask Hard Questions and Expect Real Answers
Both parties should be prepared to share as much about their personal finances as possible. You should discuss your income (including any commissions or bonuses), your past and current debt, how many credit cards you have and your plan for paying them off, your monthly and annual budget, your financial goals and dreams and your plan to achieve them. If you and your partner have a joint account do you have any ground rules for spending? Do you also have personal accounts – if so, what are they used for? The more details you exchange the more you set yourself up for success. Remember, you shouldn’t frame this conversation from the angle of “who makes more” or “who is more dependent”. You are a team and you’ve committed to building a life together.
Be Prepared to Compromise on Your Financial Standpoint
No one is perfect. You’re bound to slip up and spend outside your budget. That is life, and life tends to get messy. The best thing you can do it keep your partner informed if your financial plan goes off the rails and work together to get it back on track. Furthermore, extend this same empathy to your partner. Listen to them when they tell you what is important for them and try to understand from their point of view. Maybe your partner has a shopping habit or enjoys playing the slots every once in a while. You should both be able to spend x amount of money on the things that bring you joy – just make sure to include this in your budget.
At Jones Divorce and Family Law we understand every marriage is unique. We provide legal advice tailored to your situation. If you are considering separation or divorce, connect with us to set up an initial consultation.